Last week, the Financial Technologies Forum hosted its annual Social Media and Compliance in Financial Services (#FTFSMAC) conference in New York, and it was every bit as informative and engaging as in years past. The conference featured many interesting presenters and topics around social media and compliance, and brought together representatives from across banking, wealth management, and insurance to discuss and share best practices for successful and compliant social media programs.
I was delighted to lead a session, “The Friend Request: An Honest Conversation Between a Social Media Manager and a Compliance Manager,” and picked up three key takeaways from the event.
Cross-functional partnership is key
Social business programs must include partnership between cross-functional teams to be successful. Several presenters stated that assembling working groups that consists of members from across marketing, compliance, communication, and practice management is key to the ongoing success of any social business program. In terms of building a successful team, Adam Sherman (@adsher1), Social Media Director, New York Life Insurance, said “everyone has to be on the same page.” Their organization does this with regular working group meetings that include a combination of all of these functions. When they first started, they met weekly, but were able to scale it to monthly meetings as the program progressed. Similarly, Rick Apicella and Rocco Procopio, both from Morgan Stanley (@morganstanley), employs a cross-functional committee that meets every other week. And “for any effective social media program to work, marketing and compliance must walk hand-in-hand,” says Mr. Apicella.
Change is constant
If there is one thing we’ve learned in this business is that change is bound to happen. According to the presenters, it’s important to know of these industry changes so that you can adapt your programs and policies. Michael Bello, Compliance Director for MassMutual (@MassMutual), joked that the social networks change so much that they were updating their policies as often as once per month.
Joking aside, in the session “Keeping Up with the Cool Kids: Staying Current While Staying Compliant” one panelist mentioned that there had been over 350 “meaningful” social network changes in 2014. These included changes to the social network interfaces, API functionality, new features, and new social networks. He told us it takes a team effort across an organization to keep up with these changes. Others stated it also takes relying on technology vendors, like Hearsay Social, to stay informed of the changes.
Always be educating
FTF’s core message was that education is key for enterprise social media programs. The group discussed two key areas for education: 1) educating compliance and supervision teams on social networks’ functionality, and 2) regularly training employees on a firm’s social media policies and practices.
Moreover, “the key to effective supervision is understanding what you are supervising,” said Michael Bello, Compliance Director, MassMutual. In similar fashion, Corina Roy (@corinaroy), AVP, Digital Experience, MassMutual described what the education process was like when they first started. She even encouraged some of the compliance and supervision professionals to set up their own social profiles so they could really understand the in-and-outs of the social networks.
Biggest lessons from #FTFsmac: Employee education, collaboration with compliance & social listening are crucial for success.
— WSTA (@WSTAorg) September 17, 2015
— Kristie Helms Nettles (@KristieHelms) September 17, 2015
In addition, regulations require annual training and attestation of a firm’s social media policy, but some say annual training is not enough. Lori Hale, Vice President, Senior Corporate Compliance Officer for Bank of the West, says to make information easily available for social media users as well as provide quarterly updates. Likewise, in-person events, such as advisor sales conferences, are another great opportunity for education. Ms. Roy, for example, has conducted multiple sessions at her firm’s annual sales meetings.
Overall, this year’s FTF SMAC conference fostered great conversation and information sharing on the compliance and social media topics from many levels. It was valuable to hear what different organizations are doing, and I look forward to hearing how they evolve at next year’s event!
If you missed the event, you can still follow the conversation at #ftfsmac.